As of Tuesday evening, the St. Louis Cardinals still hadn’t announced a starter for their game at 6:15 p.m. Thursday against the San Diego Padres.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn’t totally discount Jaime Garcia from taking the assignment, but Garcia still hasn’t thrown a preparatory bullpen because of lingering discomfort in his left groin. It’s not likely that he would pitch without bullpen work.
St. Louis’ options for Thursday include a bullpen game, possibly started by Carlos Villanueva, who hasn’t pitched since he recorded a three-inning save Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.
But a more likely scenario is a recall of left-hander Tim Cooney from Class AAA Memphis. Cooney was pulled from his start Sunday after two innings.
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The Cardinals also could pitch Michael Wacha on regular rest, followed by Carlos Martinez on regular rest Friday. However, they had hoped to use the off day Monday to give Wacha and Martinez, their two youngest starters, an extra day of rest.
Following Lance Lynn on Tuesday will be John Lackey at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
“After that, we’ll keep you updated,” Matheny said, adding that Garcia on Tuesday “felt much better.”
“That was good news for us,” Matheny said. “We’ll just wait and see.”
Asked whether Garcia could start Thursday without a regular bullpen, Matheny said: “We will wait and see,” slamming his fungo bat on the bench for emphasis.
Carpenter, Wong idled
Third baseman Matt Carpenter and second baseman Kolten Wong were replaced in the lineup Tuesday, respectively, by Mark Reynolds and Pete Kozma.
The motivation for the change was to get two extra right-handed bats against Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, who had held left-handed hitters to a .188 average. Right-handers had fared little better, compiling a .209 mark.
“Tough assignment. Tough lefty,” Matheny said. “It does work out good to have a couple of back-to-back days to kind of give their body and their mind a chance to recoup.”
Carpenter is 3-for-26 (.115) with eight strikeouts in his last seven games. He is batting .222 against left-handers this season and .268 against them in his career.
“I don’t get too excited about that one way or the other,” Matheny said. “Especially (since) we’re just halfway through this. It can change in a hurry with a couple of good bats. Or it could go the other way as well. In general, I think you’ve got the larger sample size to go off of. Matt’s just trying to get his stroke right overall. Having a day like today could help him get there.”
Ace right-hander Adam Wainwright, sidelined for the season with a torn left Achilles’ tendon, will take the next step in his recoverey Wednesday when doctors remove his walking boot.
Wainwright recently said he hopes he is able to return from the injury in September or October, but for the Cardinals to take that risk is a possibility that’s difficult to fathom.
Besides, the rotation of Lynn, Lackey, Garcia, Wacha and Martinez has been the most productive in the major leagues with an ERA of 2.89. Cardinals starters have limited hitters to a .242 average.
The Cardinals’ bullpen ERA of 2.01 also leads the majors. Their relievers have held hitters to a .239 average and their saves total of 31 trails only Tampa Bay.